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“The strangest place in the whole universe might just be right here.” So says actor Will Smith, narrating the opening moments of a new documentary series about the wonderful unlikeliness of our own planet, Earth.
One Strange Rock, premiering March 26 on the National Geographic Channel, is itself a peculiar and unlikely creation. Executive produced by Academy Award–...
Science & the Public
It certainly feels like the northeastern United States is getting snowier.
In the first two weeks of March, three winter storms slammed into the northeast corridor from Washington, D.C., to Boston. Over the last decade, a flurry of extreme winter storms has struck the region, giving birth to clever portmanteau names such as Snowpocalypse (2009), Snowmageddon (2010) and Snowzilla (2016...
Ceres may be regularly coughing up briny water or slush onto its surface.
The discovery of waterlogged minerals and a growing ice wall suggests that the dwarf planet could harbor underground liquid water or slushy brine, which has escaped through cracks and craters in the recent past and may still be seeping out today. The findings, reported in two papers published online March 14 in...
We can’t see it, but brains hum with electrical activity. Brain waves created by the coordinated firing of huge collections of nerve cells pinball around the brain. The waves can ricochet from the front of the brain to the back, or from deep structures all the way to the scalp and then back again.
Called neuronal oscillations, these signals are known to accompany certain mental states....
News in Brief
If signals from an alien civilization ever reach Earth, odds are the aliens will already be dead.
In an effort to update the 1961 Drake Equation, which estimates the number of detectable, intelligent civilizations in the Milky Way, physicist Claudio Grimaldi and colleagues calculated the area of the galaxy that should be filled with alien signals at a given time (SN Online: 11/1/09)....
Reviews & Previews
The Biological MindAlan JasanoffBasic Books, $30
At a small eatery in Seville, Spain, Alan Jasanoff had his first experience with brains — wrapped in eggs and served with potatoes. At the time, he was more interested in finding a good, affordable meal than contemplating the sheer awesomeness of the organ he was eating. Years later, Jasanoff began studying the brain as part of his...
On the hormonal roller coaster of life, the ups and downs of childbirth are the Tower of Power. For nine long months, a woman’s body and brain absorb a slow upwelling of hormones, notably progesterone and estrogen. The ovaries and placenta produce these two chemicals in a gradual but relentless rise to support the developing fetus.
With the birth of a baby, and the immediate expulsion of...
News in Brief
LOS ANGELES — Give a graphene layer cake a twist and it superconducts — electrons flow freely through it without resistance. Made up of two layers of graphene, a form of carbon arranged in single-atom-thick sheets, the structure’s weird behavior suggests it may provide a fruitful playground for testing how certain unusual types of superconductors work, physicist Pablo Jarillo-Herrero of MIT...
There’s been a lot of talk about fake news running rampant online, but now there’s data to back up the discussion.
An analysis of more than 4.5 million tweets and retweets posted from 2006 to 2017 indicates that inaccurate news stories spread faster and further on the social media platform than true stories. The research also suggests that people play a bigger role in sharing falsehoods...
The strangest signals reaching Earth
The search for neutron stars has intensified because of a relatively small area, low in the northern midnight sky, from which the strangest radio signals yet received on Earth are being detected. If the signals come from a star, the source broadcasting the radio waves is very likely the first neutron star ever detected. — Science News, March 16,...